The funeral of Cafe Coffee Day founder VG Siddhartha, whose body was found 36 hours after he went missing from a bridge near Mangaluru in Karnataka, took place at one of his coffee estates at his village in Chikkamagaluru district on Wednesday evening. Hundreds of people, including Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa, senior Congress leader DK Shivakumar and other senior politicians, attended the funeral. The 60-year-old businessman was the son-in-law of former Karnataka chief minister SM Krishna.
VG Siddhartha's body was found by two fishermen, floating in the backwaters of the Netravathi river this morning. It was handed over to his family after an autopsy.
VG Siddhartha's body was then taken to the Coffee Day Global Enterprises office in Chikkamgaluru on way to the village that is 150 kilometres from Mangaluru.
Amartya, VG Siddhartha's son, lit his father's funeral pyre after the last rites in the presence of a large number of people. He broke down several times while performing the rituals. An emotional SM Krishna, VG Siddhartha's father-in-law, was also at the funeral.
BS Yediyurappa tweeted his condolences after the funeral.
"In the moment of grief I paid my tribute to one of the pioneers in the coffee retail industry, the founder of Cafe Coffee Day & Former CM Sri S M Krishna's son in law, Sri. VG Siddartha. My heart goes out to his family. He will always be remembered," he tweeted.
VG Siddhartha, the founder of India's largest coffee chain, was last seen on the bridge over the Netravati river in the coastal town on Monday evening, according to the police. In his statement to the police, Mr Siddhartha's driver Basavaraj Patil said they were going to Sakleshpur from Bengaluru in a Toyota Innova - a 220-km drive - when the businessman asked him to turn towards Mangaluru.
As they approached a bridge near Mangaluru, the businessman asked his driver to stop the car and got off. Mr Patil, in the statement, said Mr Siddhartha asked him to drive towards the other end of the bridge and wait there.
Days before he went missing, Mr Siddhartha, 60, had reportedly written a letter to board members and employees of Cafe Coffee Day. The letter - accessed by news agency ANI - alleges harassment by an income tax officer and expresses regret for not being able to create "the right profitable business".
He also said that he was under "tremendous pressure" from one of "the private equity partners".
VG Siddhartha's offices were raided by income tax officers in September 2017. He was among the country's largest exporters of coffee bean. His family has been in the coffee-growing business for more than 130 years, according to his profile page on the website of consultancy firm Mindtree, where he was a non-executive director.